Am I A Nigger?

ASK YOURSELF!

Am I A Nigger?

               Am I A Nigger?

                                                      Am I A Nigger?

And if the answer is yes? Don’t be afraid to show it!

Cause it’s the Nigger in you that makes you BLACK!

…Once you learn to hate it…

An acoustic dialogue on respectability politics, the diversity of Black self conception and the mattering of Black Lives.

The 5 Pillars of White Supremacy in DC

5 pillars of Anti-Black White Supremacy In DC

Intro

Ultimately this frame is an attempt to distill our understanding of White Supremacy and Racial Injustice into a manageable size and tie it to a preliminary vision for Black Liberation. These five pillars are an attempt to explain the complicated nature of modern structural and interpersonal racism in a way that is accessible and that can bridge several divides in our modern conversations about race. We have to bridge the divide between those who focus on systems of oppression like mass incarcerations and those who focus on interpersonal displays of racism. We have to merge efforts of structural reform with efforts for cultural change. We need to expand our vision of state violence and White Supremacy beyond policing. Most importantly we need to expand the role of non-Black people in ending anti-Black racism from allies to collaborators.

Below are the five pillars of Anti-Black White Supremacy in DC we have identified. These pillars are heavily informed by Andrea Smith’s Hetero-Patriarchy and Three Pillars of White Supremacy. They also reflect the ways in which other forms of racial oppression [Settler Genocide and Orientalism] have been repurposed to support the control of Black communities. Lastly they are also heavily informed by modern left ideas like dialectical materialism, generative somatics and emergent strategies. The goal of this frame to educate and provide a tool for identifying targets for strategic action. Technical, academic or key terms that are underlined are defined in the definitions document attached to the week of action frame.

Premises of the Five Pillars

The first premise of these five pillars is that race and racism are flimsy, intangible ideas that are simultaneously created by the context we live in and at the same time help create that context. Following from this is a belief that ideas are the result of human beings moving through the world and interacting with physical [i.e. material] things. We cannot easily describe what race is or how it works yet have no trouble assigning races to people. Many white people have an implicit bias against Black people for being lazy in part because so many Black men are visibly unemployed; yet Black unemployment is caused, in part, by racial stereotypes of Black people as lazy or otherwise unfit workers. The idea of Black people being lazy also has its roots in slavery, when slaves would protest their servitude by refusing to do work and by sabotaging tools and equipment. In this way modern racist ideology is birthed from the material reality of systems of inequality that were created because of prior racists ideologies themselves created by prior material realities.

The second premise of these pillars is that both America and, to a lesser extent, the global society that it simultaneously influences and is influenced by, are fundamentally White Supremacist societies designed [intentionally and by happenstance] to maintain the power of the people who held power during its founding [landed white men]. Following from this, the cultural, political and economic systems that support our society have a vested interest in the racist status quo that birthed them. Change only happens when the status quo is no longer tenable for those with power. For example, the poll taxes and literacy tests of the Jim Crow south existed to benefit wealthy white men and only ended when mass resistance made system change easier than system maintenance.

Third, the current way society is organized [i.e the modern social order] separates people into racial groups whose arbitrarily defined traits are re-characterized to represent specific threats to the status quo. Therefore, specific systems of oppression are coupled together to address those threats. Overtime, those systems of oppression are perfected on specific populations and eventually used to undermine resistance among other populations.

For example, the “war on [or of] terror” tactics perfected in the government’s harassment of Muslim and Arab populations are now being used to disrupt BLM protests. These same tactics have their roots in the government’s fights against radical European immigrants in the 30’s and Black freedom fighters in the 60’s and 70’s. Likewise, DC’s own police department is heavily influenced by the Israeli Defense Force’s genocidal land grab in the Gaza strip.

Similarly, the current education system that now allows private corporations to profit off the achievement gap and use overly authoritarian discipline systems to condition Black children to follow inconsistent applied rules and extra-judicial white authority figures has its origins in both the “Indian schools” of the 1800’s and the early modern education system used to assimilate the children of European immigrants into the labor force.

Effectively Using This Frame

Lastly, in order to use this frame effectively, organizations/groups must guide their direct actions against the strategic points of intervention for each pillar. A point of intervention is place of strategic importance within the workings of a given system. For instance, if your goal is the production of cigarettes in your state, the state’s largest tobacco factory is a strategic point of intervention. It is where the status quo can be disrupted. Possible Points of intervention for each pillar will be italicized in this text. This concept is taken from Beautiful Trouble:

“Truly effective interventions go beyond simply disrupting a system to pose a deeper challenge to its underlying assumptions and basic legitimacy. This holds true whether the intervention targets a physical system like a sweatshop or an ideological system like racism, sexism, or market fundamentalism.”

The five types of points of intervention are points of production (for instance, a factory), points of destruction (a prison or jail), points of consumption (a big box retailer), points of decision (the Wilson Building) and points of assumption (a place that hold symbolic importance or help create the normative narrative like a monument).

To best use this frame, activists and organizers must research each pillar and break them down into the systems that support them. Once you have identified the systems that perpetuate white supremacy you can then identity the people, places and organizations that will make strategic targets. Once you have your target you prepare an action that can move your target in the direction you want them to go. After you launch and action it is important to debrief with your affinity group to learn from each action. Remember, praxis makes perfect.

The Pillars

The five pillars of White Supremacy in DC we have identified are Inner City Settler-Colonialism, Plantation Politics, Cultural Appropriation, Economic Disenfranchisement, and Psychological Warfare. The names of these pillars are not important nor should they be seen as completely divisible structures with separate logics unto themselves. Rather they should be seen as interwoven tendencies that are in constant dialogue with the local material context.

The first pillar is Inner City Settler Colonialism: Areas of urban decay are simultaneously seen as vacant land ripe with opportunities to be exploited by capitalists and dangerous “uncivilized” areas that need to be tamed. This cry for taming or civilization is then used as justification for violence against the native population, now Black Americans instead of indigenous peoples and enforced by police instead of the cavalry. One can see ettler colonialism in the recent gentrification of Columbia Heights, the current gentrification of Petworth or the impending gentrification of Historic Anacostia.

Charters schools play an important part in this pillar, as brand new elementary schools often herald gentrification from young white professionals. Similarly, the school to prison pipeline and union busting of charter schools break important communal and economic ties in the area that make it more likely that residents will leave the neighborhood. Like the ideology of rugged individualism that provided the exploitable manpower to the ideology of manifest destiny, neo-liberal ideas about privatization and disinvestment from collective spaces speed this process along.

On an individual level, young white professionals see an increase of capital that caters to their personal taste as a positive change in the community, while the resulted displacement of the Black indigenous population is erased from their moral calculations. New Petworth residents might love the new book store and café without realizing that both the pricing and the books are not geared towards long-term residents. Likewise, the quant new stores are owned by the same developers who plan of shaping the neighborhood in their image for their profit.

The solution to Inner City Settler Colonialism is equitable communal development. We must abolish the idea that housing is a commodity to be bought and sold for profit or that communities as created by developers and urban planners. We must abolish the idea that schools are work force development factories. We must abolish the idea of a false meritocracy where the cream rises to the top. Instead we must reinvest in common spaces and resources that can be shared by all. Our schools must be communal spaces where the praxes of love and creative collaborative problem solving are taught in a supportive way. We must create collective solutions to our collective problems.

The second pillar is Plantation Politics: Nearly every power hierarchy in DC gets lighter and more masculine as you climb the ranks. From the political [ANC’s, the Council and Congress] to our unions and Federal government agencies; the DC power structure resembles an old southern plantation. This is a legacy that can be seen clearest in the transition from Slavery to Sharecropping to Jim Crow as the racial power relations were given a veneer of change but remain constant, though less explicit and brutally enforced, for most Blacks. The fact that DC is not state and must have its laws and budgets approved by the overwhelming white male congress is why DC is often called “the Last Plantation.”

Low level and front line staff in government, non-profits and unions are generally women of color who are overwhelming Black, overworked and underpaid. They are often directly managed by Black men or white women who themselves are managed by white women or men. Often times white upper management will hire aggressive and rude Black middle managers to control the Black workers. Equally common are “Black led” organizations held hostage by their white led boards. Even Black elected leadership from Marion Barry to Muriel Bowser were elected by a coalition of either white liberals or light skinned Black elites along with low income Blacks but always bankrolled by white male developers.

This structure also causes relatively privileged Blacks to try to leverage their class, gender, color, nation of origin, cultural or sexual orientation privilege to rise in status. This jockeying for a higher position in the hierarchy perpetuates a respectability politics that further enshrines the hierarchy that marginalizes them. Unfortunately, respectability politics also foster anti-Black racism in other POC communities and xenophobia within the Black community. As assimilation becomes more and more necessary for economic and social advancement within the system, racial progress become less about collective action and more about neo-liberal “rugged individualism.”

The solution to Plantation Politics is Emotional Emancipation and De-Colonization. We must identify, engage with and proactively counteract our implicit biases and internalized oppression about leadership and authority. We must create intentional spaces where the leadership of women, Black people, and working class folks are uplifted and supported. These intentional space should include our union meetings and elections, our staff meetings and legislative bodies. We must create new scripts for social interaction based on a Black Queer Feminist re-envisioning of collaborative power and shared leadership.

The next pillar of White Supremacy is Cultural Appropriation. Cultural appropriation is when elements of an oppressed people’s culture are repurposed by the dominant group’s culture. The moral problem of Cultural Appropriation revolves around the issue of ownership. White people listening to Chuck Berry is cultural sharing. Saying that Elvis invented Rock and Roll and leaving Black Rock and Roll founders to poverty is cultural appropriation. Too often something only exists as a valuable cultural phenomenon once white people “discover” it. In DC we see this when developers highlight and commodify token aspects of a neighborhood’s Black history in order to make is seem more authentic and therefore valuable to white renters. Examples of this are Eatonville’s use of Harlem Renaissance imagery or the numerous Marvin Gaye themed establishments on U Street.

One of the main drivers of cultural appropriation is the construction of whiteness itself. Whiteness is not merely an amalgamation of European cultural tendencies. This means that whiteness is not a melting pot of French, German, Polish, Russian, Spanish and Italian cultures. Rather, it is a culture of dominance that exists to both bestow and justify privilege for people perceived by society as white. White ethnic groups had to give up parts of their culture and identity in order to access the privileges of whiteness. Whiteness began to be bought and sold through marketing and advertising like many of other cultural values during 1950’s consumerism.

As whiteness was being sold through visions of an American dream in subdivision ads and car commercials, consumer capitalism worked to create a cultural deficit in white Americans, a feeling that they didn’t quite “have it all.” Consumer capitalism is then there to fill that deficit, with the next new “modern” thing. This leads to a tendency to mine other cultures for new music, hair styles and clothing that were previous considered low, uncouth or unprofessional.

The solution to cultural appropriation is Cultural Education and Cultural Ownership. We must teach the history of culture in our society in a dynamic, non-normative way. We have to de-center whiteness in our teaching of history and our understanding of culture creation. We need to consume more cultural productions from the global majority and value the cultural creations of people of color. We also need to change our intellectual property laws and cultural economies so that artists of color receive fair wages for their work and corporations cannot control cultural production.

The fourth pillar of white supremacy is Economic Disenfranchisement. It includes relegating large portions of Black people in DC into low paying service sector jobs that experience wage theft, unstable and insufficient hours and are demeaning. This marginalization is being pushed in large part by a belief in the neo-liberal tenet of privatization. Essential government services that have been disinvested in and fallen into dis-repair are privatized by contractors who provide cheaper services by paying workers less. Often this divestment is only possible with an attack on public sector unions, which are overwhelming Black. Furthermore, this system benefits from and perpetuates Black joblessness that allows for increased marginalization as so many people become willing to do anything to get a paycheck of any amount. Examples of economic disenfranchisement are the privatization of public transit in DC such as the H Street Car and the Circulator.

Similarly, it encompasses the often gendered economic exploitation found in unpaid labor such as emotional labor, childrearing and supporting elders and differently abled family members that further disadvantages Black femme identifying folks. Economic disenfranchisement in a Capitalist White Cis-Hetero Patriarchy also forces Black Trans and gender-non-conforming folks into further economic disenfranchisement as both their Blackness and gender identity and presentation are deemed as less or un professional.

The solution to economic disenfranchisement is an End to Privatization, a re-investment in Black Worker Power and our Economic Safety Net. We need to rehabilitate the safety net that is so riddled with holes of respectability that Black communities fall through. Union leadership needs to be decolonized so that white men no longer head unions full of Black women and they can start to effectively advocate for Black workers. Welfare to work requirements that demonize stay-at-home parenting and force Black workers into meaningless workforce development programs that further enshrine whiteness as professionalism need to be abolished. Lastly, we need a comprehensive policy reform to raise wages for everyone and hold businesses accountable for wage theft, redlining and discrimination.

We need to create workplaces where Black workers are supported and have the power to leverage their demands. We need to create workplaces where diversity is celebrated and workers have room for personal and professional development and income growth. We need to instill a cultural of collective advancement and economic solidarity. We need to invest in family friendly workplaces with paid family, sick and parental leave that allow workers the time to invest in their community.

The last pillar of White Supremacy in DC is Psychological Warfare. Police Brutality induced trauma is used to frighten Black residents into political apathy and make them feel unwelcomed in newly gentrifying areas. Systems like the prison industrial complex and zero-tolerance authoritarian charter schools condition Black people to accept white leadership and internalize messages of failure. This in turn empowers the respectability politics that limit Black leadership and reinforce a multi-tiered class system within the job market as speech and dress become conflated with professionalism and white assimilation becomes a job pre-requisite.

Psychological Warfare also includes the various ways that trauma exacerbates other social problems and forms of oppression. The prevalence of beauty standards that normalize and privilege whiteness further stigmatizing Black women; traumatizing Black girls and increasing their gendered oppression. In a different way, poverty and insecurity incentivize people to assert various privileged identities [i.e plantation politics] to get climb social and economic ladders thereby re-ingraining things like patriarchy, trans* phobia, classism, xenophobia and homophobia. As Black people deal with these external attacks that become internal problems, the myth of “Black on Black Crime” further stigmatizes the community. Any work to alleviate the true cause of Black oppression by attacking one of the pillars of White Supremacy is delegitimized by calls for the Black community to deal with its perceived cultural deficits.

The solution to Psychological Warfare is Instilling a Culture of Loving Empowerment and Investing in Self Care. The solutions commonly given to alleviate Black oppression in today’s society too often stigmatize Black people. Social Service agencies websites and grants go on and on about the plight of their “clients” and how vulnerable or at-risk their communities are. Instead we need to refocus our attention on the resiliency of Black people and the magnitude of the forces that oppose Black progress. Black Joy and Black Love need to be regular aspects of any community venture or event. Non-Black collaborators should partake in and support events geared towards celebrating Black resilience as appropriate.

Black only spaces are also critical for Black people to do the internal work necessary to counter the stigmatizing and trauma so prevalent in today’s society. Black people must process that emotional trauma and love and support each other through the process of liberation. Non-Black communities in solidarity with Black liberation must learn to have empathy with Black struggle and invest time and resources to support Black emotional emancipation. At the same time, non-Black communities in solidarity with Black liberation must process their own emotions in order to expand their capacity to experience joy and love and authentic relationships with Black people. On a systemic level, we need to invest in social workers and positive play in schools not police officers and metal detectors. Schools should look like supportive and collaborative learning laboratories not prisons. We must also invest in communal spaces such as parks, recreation centers, other forums where community can be built and resources shared.

What We Want

At the end of the day, policy solutions cannot bring Black Liberation, nor can anti-oppression trainings. Both tactics can merely give us space to envision and articulate alternatives. Ultimately, we must create new co-operative systems and new models of social interactions that respect the inherent dignity of Black people. We must limit the power of the state to direct our lives, which means that Black communities and communities in solidarity with Black liberation must take responsibility for solving our own problems. We cannot ultimately rely on the police to make us safe or social workers and psychologist to make us whole. We must take care of our neighbors and empower our communities. We must teach each other and learn from each other new models of being our best, most gorgeous, most lovingly empathetic selves.

This week of action is one step in creating a world more vivid, more visceral, more real, and more charged with the glorious energies of a life well lived than this one. A world in which Black lives blossom; where our greatness, our resilience, our magnificence burst into the world with tears of a joy so full of mirth that our whole bodies will shake in collective ecstasy.

We seek a world in which we have all have reclaimed the erotic; where we can feel our power and joy in the marrow of our bones; where the very fibers of our being feel the vibrancy of love coursing through them. We seek a world where we love without reservations; a world where we know we deserved to be loved. We seek a world where Black self-determination is an eternal block party where we sometimes vote on our budget. We fight because we can see a world where justice is love and love is a process and a praxis taught in schools.

Dear White People: Ferguson Protests are a Wake Not a Pep Rally

White House #ferguson Rally

I get it. You’re frustrated. You’re angry. You’re sad. You’re confused. You know that the killing of Mike Brown and the lack of indictment of Darren Wilson are a travesty. You are probably aware that the system you live in, the nation that raised you, the institutions that educate and protect you, commit or support massive amounts of violence against communities of color. I’m sure for many of you the cognitive dissonance must be profoundly disturbing. For others, for those of you who, though white, are marginalized and dehumanized daily, this moment is probably an agonizing reminder of the pain you carry around everyday. I’m sure the discomfort you are feeling, the rage, the sorrow, the guilt, the confusion is probably further complicated by an excitement. I’m sure some of you are excited that things are happening, that movements are starting. I’m sure a part of you is hoping that this will be our 60’s movement moment.

I feel you. All of those emotions are valid. I share all of those emotions though likely in different combinations and at different levels of intensity. This piece in is no way intended to invalidate how you feel or to suggest that those feelings are not important. I feel your pain, I share your pain and I wish that pain would end. You need to understand however, that our pains are fundamentally different.

As most of you can imagine, this last week as been hard for me. It is not just the indictment, or lack thereof, of Darren Wilson that upsets me; in all honesty I had expected that for months. It’s the national conversation we are having on race, justice and, most importantly my very status as a human being. Can you imagine that? Can you empathize with what it might feel like for your own nation to not think that you are a human being? Can you imagine then, what it feels like to for me, dealing with all of this, to have to politely ask you to step back?

Over the past couple of weeks I have nearly been torn apart by society’s ontological debate of my humanity. Every few hours it hits me. America doesn’t think I’m human. I am just another Black man worthy of suspicion and doubt. Another looter. Another criminal. Another statistic. The only home I’ve ever known thinks that I do not deserve to live.

I am a centuries old problem with no solution but genocide.

Like Brittney Cooper said, “I am undone.” In these moments, when the despair feels like it’s ripping me apart, only the solidarity of other Black people gives me real solace. It’s the moments when a co-worker and I randomly catch each other’s eyes and we both see the pain, and the fear, and the exhaustion and one of us says “shits f%$” and we both laugh. We laugh because it’s all we can do. We laugh because sometimes the pain is too much to bear. We laugh because screaming might get us fired. We laugh so that we don’t cry.

This is why I went to the White House after the announcement. I was hoping to be surrounded by my fellow Black people, to yell, to scream, to cheer, and to sing. I wanted to gather my people around me and boldly assert my humanity to the world. Yet that’s not what I found. What I found was a mostly white crowd of college-age liberals chanting, hugging, and taking selfies with their overly-dressed up roommates. There was energy, an excitement in the air that I couldn’t share. Being surrounded by a group of young white people alternating between hugging friends who had joined them and shouting angrily at the cops (many of whom were Black) was not validating my humanity.

I questioned leaving then, angrier than I was before. Eventually, Howard University students showed up and staged a die-in. Their powerful, distinctly Black presence was welcomed. I felt alive in that moment. Later, their cries of “HU” were punctuating cries of “Black Power” and for moment I felt that sense of unity mix with the energy: I felt hope. I really believed that together we could do this. Then other chants began to compete for air with the cries for “Black Power,” and that hope vanished.

As much as I was troubled by the cries of “H.U.” due the historic social tension between Blacks who went to Historically Black Colleges and Universities [HBCU’s] and those that didn’t, I understood the impulse for that level of solidarity. I understood that desire to say we are united, we are here, we refuse to be quieted and we refuse to deny our Blackness in a world that hates us for it. That unity, that solidarity, was shattered as Howard students shouting “Black Power” were suddenly competing with white people starting chants like “No Justice, No Peace.” I began to notice that even in this crowd; we have self-segregated ourselves into clumps. White people whose friends had not yet arrived were uncomfortable and searched for their own.

This impromptu rally was the perfect metaphor for the state of the anti-racism movement in America. We agree on (most) the facts; white “allies” come out to support the cause, yet struggle to feel comfortable surrounded by Black people and so clump with their friends, take pictures to prove that they were there and subtly and unconsciously fight to control the space with their chants. Often, this fight for control is more obvious, like white people taking the mic and talking about why they are there, sometimes it more subtly like white people trying to be inclusive and chanting “all lives matter.”

To be clear, I don’t think that white people were actively uncomfortable with cries of “Black Power” en masse. Instead, I think that in large crowds multiple chants always start as one side can’t hear the other. As chants compete well-meaning white people will react either by chanting the one chant they can be a part of or by trying to be inclusive by shouting “all lives matter” over the fray. Eventually though, the subconscious wills of white people will always win out.

Similarly, due to our racist history and our own internalized oppressions, little divisions in the Black community become aggravating and concerning in a mixed audience as I become aware that white eyes are watching us. I feel a need for us to represent ourselves to society instead of just being able to be. Instead I feel like I have to mediate my emotions, my reactions and, subconsciously, police my fellow Black people, to confirm to how I wish we were viewed. I feel a need to perform my Blackness instead of just being able to be unapologetically Black when my people are dying. White people need to realize that their presence can change whether an event is a safe place, almost private in its feelings of security, or a threatening public space.

This is why a woman at the Rally in Mount Vernon Square got on the bull horn and re-affirmed that it was a Black issue, that the call needed to be Black Lives Matter and not All Lives Matter. It is instructive that this woman (an every Black woman who spoke at the beginning) was interrupted by cries of “no justice, no peace.” <— Giving the words an added level of unintentional irony.

It’s a subtle problem. But subtlety builds over time. Eventually, as moments turn into movements, it stops being subtle. So here we have it, the crux of why I’m writing this letter. You need to understand, that for many Black people, Ferguson protest are not a public pep rally for racial unity, they are a living wake. We are dying. We are being killed by the police. We are getting lynched by the media. Our souls are nearly suffocating by the pressure of being a problem.

Pep rallies: A pep rally is a gathering of people, typically students of middle school, high school and college age, before a sports event. The purpose of such a gathering is to encourage school spirit and to support members of the team for which the rally is being thrown. The pep rallies are often very loud and have a lot of excitation to keep all the students excited for the upcoming game and to cheer on the team.

Wake: A wake is a ceremony associated with death. Traditionally, a wake takes place in the house of the deceased with the body present; however, modern wakes are often performed at a funeral home. It is often a social rite which highlights the idea that the loss is one of a social group and affects that group as a whole.

Now, not all wakes are solemn, tear-filled occasions taking place in funeral homes. In fact, all cultures do wakes differently. Some celebrate the dead. Some drink until they can no longer feel the pain. In Black communities wakes take many forms but often try to bring the community to not only mourn but reaffirm our hope that things will get better. The most well-known example of this is perhaps the funeral processions famous in New Orleans. In Black churches across the country funerals are often filled with Gospel songs brimming with a mournful, desperate hope as friends and family members testify about the life of their loved one. These spaces are about community healing. Community solidarity. Individual validation through collective story telling. It builds to a sense that we will continue on because we have no other option, together we will move forward because its only way we know how, together we will change the world.

This was the tone of all the actions run by the Black Youth Project 100 yesterday. While the demands delivered to people in power were crucial to getting change, equally important were the validating cries that protestors shouted in unison.

“It is our Duty to Fight. It is our duty to win. We must love and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

The group was instructed to look each other in the eye, to make connections, to validate each other. What might seem like a great photo op to outsiders was an unspeakable validating experience for me. I was nearly in tears connecting eyes with other people, mostly Black, and shouting my humanity to the roof tops.

It was wake. It was a celebration of Black lives cut too short. It was a dirge for the death of our perpetual bondage.

When white allies clump together at protests and fight for inclusiveness, that community healing can’t happen. Imagine going to funeral services of a good friend’s brother. You might be very close with your friend, you might even be closer to them than distant relatives. Yet you have to remember that as close as you might be with them, as sad as you might feel for them, as much as you might have loved their brother you are not family. You have to take a step back and let the space be what the family needs it to be. By asserting that “all lives matter” you are denying us a chance for internal solidarity, not standing in solidarity with us. This is to not say that white people are not welcome, or needed, in this movement.

Quite the contrary, racism is a problem for white people to fix. This piece is just to say, that if you are white and you find yourself at a march for racial justice surrounded by white people: something is wrong. I understand the inclination to be surrounded by your own, just remember that you have the luxury of being surrounded by your own every moment of every day. POC have to seek out.

So to all my White friends, community members and allies, I hear your desire to express yourself and to be a part of the solution. Please remember that sometimes the most radical thing an ally can do is show up and remain silent, to allow Black people to lead. Sometimes the best way to insure that All Lives Matter is to give Black people room to own a space, to be surrounded by (mostly) fellow Black people, to yell, to scream, to cheer, and to sing. Give us our space to mourn our own deaths.

Acoustic Discourse On Violence

How complicit are you in the project of American Empire ?

How complicit are you in the project of American Empire ?

Here is my latest audio art piece “Acoustic Discourse On Violence.” The piece explores a working logic of non-violent action that is complicated by visceral reactions to fear of the unknown, shame at our moral complicity and responses to aggression. I have been contemplating taking a vow of non-violence and compassion for some time now. I also frequently find myself thinking “why don’t we riot any more?” as the anger–which is a response to the ideologies of dominance that become visceral and integral parts of my lived experience through the assertion of whiteness and capitalism–build up inside me. This is an attempt at exploring those two impulses. As always, please let me know what you think.